COMMISSION on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista denied Thursday that he secretly met with Vice President Leonor Robredo shortly after the Supreme Court, acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, ordered her to answer charges of fraud in the last election.
In a statement, Bautista called as “malicious” suggestions that he had a meeting with Robredo after a video of showing him and Robredo at a private party hosted by socialite Baby Cruz at the Urdaneta Apartments in Makati Tuesday night.
Bautista said he was among the several personalities invited to a party attended by at least 30 guests, including Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.
The video was posted on the Facebook page Dayaang Matuwid, which said Robredo met Bautista on July 12, eight hours after the high tribunal ordered her to reply to the electoral protest filed by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Both Bautista and Robredo are respondents in the case.
Bautista admitted seeing Robredo during the party, but denied they had a lengthy talk.
“All I’d said was hi and she responded hello,” Bautista said. “It was a social gathering. The members of the diplomatic corps were there. We didn’t talk about politics… I just said hello to the VP.”
Robredo also denied a secret meeting.
“There was no such secret meeting. We just attended a dinner party. Maybe, there were about 40 people. One of the guests was the Comelec chairman. I do not remember any incident that we talked to one another. I think, we just greeted one another, but we did not talk,” she said.
She described suggestions of a secret meeting as “very malicious.”
“As far as I am concerned, I do not remember any exchange between us. I just said ‘hi’ either when I entered or when I left… I can’t remember. But we never talked,” Robredo said.
She said she and Bautista were just both invited to the dinner party.
Even her daughters—Aika, Tricia and Jillian—were at the event, she added.
“The dinner was over when I arrived there so I had to eat alone,” she said.
Marcos had earlier sought to nullify Robredo’s proclamation for alleged poll fraud.
On Tuesday, a Supreme Court insider disclosed that the justices deliberated on Marcos’ poll protest and decided to require Robredo to comment on the allegation that her election was tainted with irregularities.
While the Court’s spokesman Theodore Te admitted that the tribunal had acted on the Marcos, protest, he declined to offer any specifics.
In a media briefing, Te said he was only authorized to announce that the tribunal will issue a resolution on this matter in due course.
The PET is composed of the same 15 Supreme Court justices as its members.
In his protest filed June 29, Marcos questioned the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts in 25 provinces and five cities all over the country involving some nine million votes.
Marcos lost to Robredo by a margin of 263,473 votes in the final and official tally of votes. He garnered 14,155,344 votes while Robredo got a total of 14,418, 817 votes.
Marcos sought the nullification of about a million votes cast in three provinces—Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao—over claims of massive cheating.
Marcos also asked the PET to order the reopening of ballots and manual recount of about eight million votes in 23 provinces and five cities.
Marcos sought the annulment of the proclamation of Robredo as vice president and his declaration as duly elected vice president.
It was earlier learned that the case has been raffled to Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, the last appointee and known buddy of former President Benigno Aquino III, who has vowed to stop Marcos from becoming vice president.
Caguioa and Aquino were classmates from elementary to college at the Ateneo de Manila University. Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court in January, Caguioa was Aquino’s chief presidential legal counsel and then secretary of justice.
Aquino’s sister, actress Kris Aquino, was the top campaign contributor of Robredo during the last election. The Aquinos and Marcoses are bitter political rivals.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.